Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your comic book series, Poverty Pack, through Afro ‘Stache Studios! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Ted Shambaris: Our premise for the book would be: What if a group of B-grade superheroes wanted to get together and form their own crime fighting team, but they didn’t have a billionaire to help fund them? What do they do when they destroy half the city trying to put criminals in jail? Somebody’s got to pay for it! So, they have to find jobs or get in the unemployment line to help pay for things. It’s definitely silly, but a whole lot of fun.
We first got inspired to start Poverty Pack when many of our other ideas for comic books didn’t seem to fit with what we wanted to do or just didn’t feel right. Don’t get me wrong; we had plenty of ideas for books, just not quite ready for prime time. We decided to do a kitchen sink book. By that, I mean we wanted to put everything we loved about comics and pop culture into our book: superheroes, giant robot and monster movies, Mel Brooks movies, etc. We dusted off a few characters from our childhood, gave them a bit of a revamp, then created a bunch of other silly characters, and came up with the Poverty Pack.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in writing the series, and what have been some of your creative influences?
TS: It’s funny how my creative process has changed over the course of writing Poverty Pack.
The first story arc, "Kneading Dough," was pretty much me writing by the seat of my pants, and even I was wondering where it was going to go when it all ended. The second story arc, "The Lagoonies," I had a much better idea of where it was going. I was still writing it by the seat of my pants, but I knew how it was going to end. It was just getting it there was the adventure. The third story arc is called "The Warguilder." This arc has a fully developed outline from beginning to end, and I’m finding it much easier to write this way. I’m really looking forward to seeing this story arc come out.
I have so many influences, it’s hard to keep track. As mentioned before, I am influenced by Mel Brooks and his movies. I also like the silly comedy movies like Airplane! and Kentucky Fried Movie. My writing influences would definitely be Garth Ennis, especially Preacher. Alan Moore and Frank Miller. I would also have to add Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files series. Will I ever be as good as they are? Probably not, but I do enjoy their work.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
TS: I really want readers to have fun with the Poverty Pack. We never had plans to make it a world-changing or thought-provoking comic. Just have fun with it and hopefully get a few laughs and be entertained. That’s what I really want from readers. I hope they get that.
BD: Do you have plans to expand the Poverty Pack world into additional arcs or an ongoing comic book series?
TS: We have plans to expand on Poverty Pack. As mentioned before, we have "The Lagoonies;" issue #9 and the last issue of that story arc, will be out soon. Then, "The Warguilder" story is already written. We also have plans for the next three story arcs after that. We’ve got bigger and sillier ideas coming all the time! It won’t be easy to stop it now!
BD: If given the opportunity to expand your series into other entertainment mediums, in what format do you hope to see it adapted?
TS: Naturally, isn’t the golden ring for creators to have their project made into a movie? I would absolutely love for that to happen. I think I would love an animated series, as well, you know, if the movie thing doesn’t happen. I’m really open to anything that may come up. Even a five-minute Poverty Pack cartoon on YouTube would make my year!
Admittedly, I am a gamer of tabletop RPGs and boardgames, and there has been some discussion of a possible Poverty Pack RPG or card game in the future, but right now, I’d rather concentrate on the comic book itself.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
TS: The next issues of Poverty Pack are coming. We do have issues planned all the way up to at least issue #30.
I work in special education and have been developing a story based on people with special needs, but wasn’t sure where I was going with it. Then, I was able to go to the C3 Conference and then see the McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics, and that gave me the inspiration to go through with writing my story. So, it’s still in development, but I’m definitely going to go through with it, and I’m really excited to see it come out.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Poverty Pack?
TS: Definitely check out our website, www.afrostachestudios.com. We also have a Facebook page. Our email address is povertythrilladventures (at) gmail (dot) com. Our books are for sale on on IndyPlanet.us. Just do a search for Poverty Pack and you’ll find all of our books we have out right now.